June 13, 2019
Kochi: Stainless steel utensils have come to stay as integrated articles associated with modern living in every household.
Exceptions could be there like homemakers preferring alternatives like Chinese cutlery among others.
There was a time in Kerala when stainless steel appliances were a luxury and aluminium or hindalium vessels were used by middle class families. A section with lower income could not even dream of such items and had to manage with earthen vessels, but strong enough and seldom broke. It was only financial constraints that made them go for such cheap wares.
But delicacies made in earthen ware were natural, tastier. This explains why it is now fad to buy such vessels, especially among the high-income groups.
It was mainly the exodus to West Asia, or the Gulf as Malayalees prefer to say, that made a dramatic change in the kitchen in several homes. Suddenly becoming better off made several Kerala kitchens see the arrival of steel utensils.
From the costly branded stainless steel articles, unaffordable to many, came unbranded ones at half the price, making them popular.
For this, Keralites owe much to the small traders from neighbouring Tamil Nadu who helped change the kitchen in several houses, filling them with steel articles.
It was an aggressive marketing mode of these traders that saw budget stainless steel appliances make an easy entry into Kerala homes.
Most of these started business on a humble note, carrying on their head such ware in big baskets from house to house. This helped create a link with households and slowly as business improved, trade was in bicycles and later two-wheelers.
Such mobile sales have ended. In place these traders have set up permanent shops across Kerala. Stiff competition had seen some traders offer ware at wholesale rates.
Kottayam is one city dotted with traders from Tamil Nadu. There are a number of steel utensil shops, big and small, catering to the needs of the people looking for lesser-priced utensils.
Anbarasan is one such trader who came to Kottayam about three and a half decades ago to try his luck.
He associated with his uncle to learn the basics of the trade. Initially, it was challenging and he wanted to return to Tirunelveli. But, he stayed on and about 15 years back, he parted ways with his uncle to set up his own shop in the city.
Anbarasan is among the number of traders who told The Covai Post that articles were mainly bought from Mumbai, the main city supplying unwelded material. There are articles coming from Chennai and Madurai too.
A number of such shops in Kottayam are doing good business, says Anbarasan.
He earning quite well and has nearly become a native of Kottayam. He brought up his daughter and son in a big way with the former keen on new generation jobs and is learning fashion designing in Chennai. His son wants to pursue his engineering course in Tamil Nadu.
Anbarasan, like many of such traders, is in a dilemma over settling down in Kottayam that has literally let him grow.